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FMU graduates named finalists for state Teacher of the Year

Two Francis Marion University graduates have a chance to be the next state Teacher of the Year.

FMU graduates Linda Dowling, a middle-grades language arts teacher at Darlington County’s Sonavista Alternative School, and Ann Marie Taylor, a special education teacher at Pine Tree Hill Elementary School in Kershaw County, are among five finalists chosen from nominees representing 83 of South Carolina’s 85 local public school districts.

These two and the other finalists will travel to Columbia March 15 for personal interviews with a seven-member state Selection Committee. They are vying to represent more than 50,000 South Carolina public school teachers in the National Teacher of the Year Program.

Dowling has been a teacher for 27 years. She is a National Board Certified teacher in young adult language arts and has served as a master teacher and a teacher specialist on site for the state Department of Education. She earned her bachelor’s degree in education and master of education from FMU.

For the past three years, Taylor has taught self-contained special education classes (EMD), grades kindergarten through fifth. This year, she became a National Board candidate.

Taylor attended FMU from 1999-2001and received a master’s degree in teaching, learning disabilities. She received additional certification in teaching students with mental disabilities as well. From 1993-1997, she attended Saginaw Valley State University and received a bachelor’s degree in behavioral sciences and criminal justice.

Also on the list are: Ilona Sunday, an eighth-grade science teacher at Crayton Middle School in Richland 1; Dawn Smith, a fourth-grade teacher at Bookman Road Elementary in Richland 2; and Frances Hardy, a language arts teacher at Spartanburg High School in Spartanburg 7.

One will be named the state’s top teacher for the 2007-2008 academic year at a May 4 banquet. During the next school year, that teacher will participate in a one-year residency program at the Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention and Advancement (CERRA) and serve as a statewide ambassador for the teaching profession.

The winning teacher also will conduct workshops for other classroom professionals, discuss public education issues with members of the General Assembly and State Board of Education, and work closely with the Teacher Cadet Program, a program that encourages academically able students with exemplary interpersonal and leadership skills to consider teaching as a career.

The winner will receive a year’s leave from the classroom to travel around the state and attend national conferences representing 49,000 fellow educators. The winner also receives $25,000, gifts, and use of a BMW sports car for a year. Each of the four other finalists is guaranteed $10,000 and assorted gifts, which have included automobile tires and laptop computers. Local district teachers of the year receive $1,000 each.

This year marks the 42nd year of the South Carolina Teacher of the Year Program, which has grown tremendously in participation and prestige. Corporate sponsorships and private donations have funded the annual awards and transformed the program into a nationally recognized event that honors the State Teacher of the Year, Honor Roll teachers and district teachers of the year.

The 2006-07 sponsors include: Premier – BMW Manufacturing Co.; Diamond – Time Warner Cable; Platinum – Michelin North America Inc. and The R. L. Bryan Co; Gold - CMC Steel of South Carolina, Data Recognition Corporation and SMARTer Kids Foundation; Silver – AARP of South Carolina, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, Childs & Halligan, P.A., Duff & White, L.L.C., Duke Energy, McNair Law Firm, P.A., Notre Dame Club of the Western Carolinas, Progress Energy, Publix Super Market Charities and SCE&G; Bronze – Alcoa-Mt. Holly, State Farm Insurance, Wachovia, and Washington Savannah River.

#131 / 3-7-07
Last Published: March 7, 2007 1:58 PM
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